(The Root) — For Trayvon Martin’s parents, the one-year anniversary of his shooting death was a day spent reflecting on just how much they have lost and just how much they have gained. Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin marked Feb. 26 by attending a “Million Hoodie Candlelight Vigil” in New York City’s Union Square, where similar rallies have been held.
The hooded sweatshirts represented what the unarmed 17-year-old was wearing when he was shot and killed by neighborhood-watch captain George Zimmerman while returning from a convenience store to his father’s home in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. At exactly 7:17 p.m., the time that Trayvon was shot, his parents, along with a crowd of several hundred supporters, lit candles and held a moment of silence.
Tracy Martin, with the help of a bullhorn, thanked everyone for coming out on the very cold and wet night. “It’s a somber day for us, but also it’s a day of peace for us,” Trayvon’s father said. “Because we know as parents that we have done all we can do to make our children’s lives right.” An emotional Fulton, with her voice cracking, told supporters, “I’m a mother of two boys. I have one son on Earth and one son in heaven, and I’m going to continue to fight for my boys, as well as your boys and girls.”
Both wore dark hoodies pulled over their heads. Fulton’s even had Trayvon’s name monogrammed on the sleeve. His father told the crowd, “As parents of Trayvon Martin, we certainly are declaring today, in our households, Hoods Up Day. This day, until the day I die, will be Hoods Up Day for me.”
Joining the vigil was actor Jamie Foxx, who was not wearing a hoodie. The entertainer had come virtually straight off the red carpet in Los Angeles after the Oscars on Sunday. “It’s a personal thing with me and Sybrina,” Foxx said. “I saw her at the [NAACP] Image Awards and we had a moment together, and I don’t want to share everything that was said, but she said, ‘My baby’s gone.’ As I stood there with my daughter, who is 19 now, I started to think what would I feel like if she wasn’t there with me. So I made a commitment that night.”
Foxx told the crowd that Harry Belafonte’s plea for social activism at the Image Awards earlier this month was the catalyst for that commitment. Foxx said he “felt embarrassed” after hearing Belafonte say, “We have so much influence and so much money, but we don’t do anything with it.” Then Foxx surprised the crowd by singing a verse from Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” hugged Trayvon’s parents and told them, “We love you.”
It wasn’t just Foxx who vowed to use his celebrity — author, sociologist and professor Michael Eric Dyson told those at the vigil, “We will not allow his memory to die or his life to be lived in vain.” To that the crowd responded, “Amen.”